100% Organic Cotton and 100% Ethical

In these credit-crunch times ‘not shopping’ is the new retail therapy, especially for bank accounts in need of a break. People are certainly cutting back where they can and this, sadly, means ethical considerations may be sidelined. Supermarkets report a drop in sales of organic vegetables, but food of some kind we need.  Most of us probably don’t ‘need’ more clothes and the very notion of buying organic clothes may appear a ridiculous and unnecessary luxury.   When was the last time you put organic knickers on your shopping list?

Regardless of economic climate I have always been quite good at ‘not shopping’.  The Man from Salford laments my ability to not shop every time he opens the fridge door.  Not being able to find any underpants, other than the ones I have relegated to cleaning-rag duty, also tends to underline my ‘not shopping’ credentials. Arguably underpant shopping is not my job, after all he is a big boy, XL in fact, and is quite capable of not doing his own shopping.

I’ve never really thought about clothes that much, the fact that I wear rigger boots for a good eight months of the year tends to put paid to any sartorial creativity I might have. Nevertheless, I thought it was time I considered what would constitute a sustainable wardrobe.  To be honest my wardrobe wouldn’t sustain a mouse’s jumble sale, but here is what I came up with:

  • Clothes should be sourced from renewable raw materials.  Most synthetics with their reliance on petro-chemicals do not have a place in the sustainable wardrobe.
  • Raw materials should be produced with minimal environmental impact – in other words organically produced with due consideration to best land use.
  • Materials should be of a high quality and durability and not need regular replacing, thus cutting down on production and transportation.
  • Production and distribution should not perpetuate cycles of poverty - poverty is an enemy to sustainability in so many ways.

 Oops! My wardrobe isn’t even tugging at the shirt tails of this bench-mark, which in short is 100% organic cotton and 100% ethical fairtrade.  Arguably I wear most of my clothes to the death, regardless of the fact they probably weren’t meant to last more than a ’season’ and certainly are not of high quality or high durability.    I actually appear to own two organic cotton t-shirts but they obviously got in there by default rather than by conscious design.  Many of my clothes are bought second hand from charity shops and I think that for most of us with limited means this is definitely one of the best options for reducing the environmental impact of our wardrobes, and is a way of supporting causes that seek to reduce inequalitly, poverty and cruelty.  

 There are some clothes that we really don’t want buy second hand and that is underwear.  I’m back to knickers and underpants, sorry folks!  It’s unlikely that I can afford to be 100% organic cotton and 100% ethical all the time and will continue to wear clothes to the death and buy second hand, but here is my opportunity to be at least 5% organic  cotton and 5% ethical.  No more cheap knickers for me since I discovered the bright, practical but also stylish range of underwear from People Tree.    They do nice stuff for the men also, I might just tell The Man to click his way over there, you never know he might accomplish his own underwear shopping!


Cornish based outdoor wear company Seasalt now stock a range of hemp clothing for those looking for sustainable alternatives, as well as their more traditional range of organic cotton products.  See also Organic Baby Clothes for a lovely range of baby clothes from People Tree.

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4 comments to 100% Organic Cotton and 100% Ethical

  • Cool Site! Thought provoking and some familiar posts. Trying to live lower-impact and the ethical and practical issues. Please keep on posting

  • Shutsumon

    My wardrobe is far from sustainable as well I’m afraid. With clothing the ethical options are severely limited and very expensive. It’s always nice to see a new option for buying more ethical clothing.

    Having said while fairtrade organic cotton is certainly more ethical the words “cotton” and “sustainable” do not really go together in my mind. Not considering the distances involved in transporting it and how thirsty a plant cotton is.

    Linen, nettlecloth and hemp are better sustainable cloth materials since they can all be grown in this country (well not hemp but that’s just because you have to jump through legal hoops to get a license not because it won’t grow).

    Unfortunately I don’t know anywhere you can buy linen knickers from.

  • goo

    Thanks for some fantastic ideas Shutsumon, you’ve had me googling like mad! During both world wars the Germans had to resort to using nettlecloth as the U.S and Britain pretty much controlled the cotton markets. It is a versatile fabric with good insulating properties. Can’t wait to start the Goo’s Guide to Knitting Knickers with Nettles! (Sorry, can’t resist alliteration.)

  • Shutsumon

    Who’d want to resist alliteration? :-D

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